Clippers prepare to take on LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers

Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, right, watches his shot as Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Cleveland’s LeBron James guards the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant during the Cavaliers’ 120-108 victory Thursday at Staples Center. James and the Cavs will take on the Clippers on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Staples Center/AP photo by Danny Moloshok

 

For the L.A. Clippers, it would be nice if they could take on the Cleveland Cavaliers with Blake Griffin back in the lineup. That way they could really get an idea of where they’re at just more than a month away from the post-season.

That’s not the case, though, as Griffin has yet to be medically cleared from his partially torn left quad tendon and fractured right hand. Once he is, he’ll still have to serve a four-game suspension for punching Matias Testi, a team equipment staffer, on Jan. 23 in Toronto.

Coach Doc Rivers realizes what his Clippers will be up against when they square off with the Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers (46-18), who have the third-best record in the league behind Golden State and San Antonio, Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Staples Center.

“They’re tough, they’re playing good basketball,” Rivers said. “They have so many players, you know, that could make plays. And that’s what makes them dangerous. Obviously, LeBron (James), but Kyrie (Irving) and (Kevin) Love. Their other guys are playing well for them, too, so it’s going to be a tough matchup for us.”

The Cavaliers have won five of their past six after losing two in a row – at Toronto (99-97) on Feb. 26 and at Washington (113-99) on Feb. 28.
Small forward James leads his team in scoring and assists with respective averages of 24.9 and 6.6. Power forward Love is averaging 15.8 points and a team-high 10 rebounds and point guard Irving is averaging 19.8 points and 4.6 assists.

The Cavaliers defeated the Clippers 115-102 on Jan. 21 in Cleveland. Griffin did not play in that game, either, as he has not played since Christmas night against the Lakers.

The Clippers (42-22) are 25-9 sans Griffin.

Clippers will not have a starter in Feb. 14 All-Star game in Toronto

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

The starters for the upcoming All-Star game were announced Thursday and nary a Clipper was among them.

Chris Paul finished third among guards in the Western Conference with 624,334 votes. Blake Griffin, who hasn’t played since Christmas night, and DeAndre Jordan finished sixth and 11th among frontcourt players with 651,860 and 269,427 votes, respectively.

The Western Conference starters for the Feb. 14 in Toronto will be Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, Steph Curry of the Warriors, Keven Durant of Oklahoma City, Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio and Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City.

The Eastern Conference starters will be Carmelo Anthony of the  Knicks, Paul George of Indiana, LeBron James of Cleveland, Kyle Lowry of Toronto and Dwyane Wade of Miami.

Bryant had the most votes of any player, tallying 1,891,614. Curry was next with 1,604,325 and then James with 1,089,206. They were only three with at least a million votes.

 

 

 

Chris Paul third, Blake Griffin fifth in current All-Star voting

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

Chris Paul is third among backcourt players in the Western Conference and Blake Griffin is fifth among frontcourt players in the most recent tabulation of All-Star votes released Thursday by the NBA.

Paul has 268,672 votes and sits behind Golden State’s Steph Curry (925,789) and Russell Westbrook (479,512) of the Thunder.

Klay Thompson (267,602) is fourth behind Paul.

Griffin, who has missed the past six games with a partially torn left quad tendon, has 298, 212 votes. He sits behind the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (1,262,118), Kevin Durant (616,096) of the Thunder, Draymond Green (332,223) of Golden State and Kawhi Leonard (330,929) of San Antonio.

DeAndre Jordan is 14th with 91,186 votes.

Bryant leads all players in votes.

Chris Paul’s 17 points help Clippers to 60-44 lead over Lakers at half

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

 

A 3-pointer by Luc Mbah a Moute with 3.5 seconds left gave the Clippers a 60-44 lead over the Lakers at halftime on Christmas night at Staples Center.

Chris Paul led the Clippers (16-13) with 17 points, Jamal Crawford scored 10, Blake Griffin nine and J.J. Redick eight. DeAndre Jordan had seven points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers.

D’Angelo Russell led the Lakers with 12 points and Kobe Bryant scored nine.

 

Doc Rivers: Some all-time greats will soon ride off into sunset

Paul Pierce

 

Paul Pierce/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers

It was noted to coach Doc Rivers that the Christmas night game between the Clippers and Lakers might be the last time we see Kobe Bryant and the Clippers’ Paul Pierce play on Christmas. Bryant has already said he is retiring at the end of the season.

“I mean, I don’t know about Paul because he still loves playing and all that,” Rivers said of Pierce, 38. “He hasn’t had the injuries that Kobe has had, so that’s made a difference. We’re going through this golden age right now with not just Kobe, but Tim Duncan, Paul, KG (Kevin Garnett).

“I mean, there are five or six of the greatest players that ever played the game that we’re not going to see within the next two years and so I think we should cherish that ever time we see them, every time you’re around them. I think they deserve every bit of respect that you can give them.”

Five things to take from the Clippers’ 114-89 rout of the Lakers

Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes had 19 points in rout of Lakers and also kept Kobe Bryant in check/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

– The Clippers this season have let poor teams back into games many times, so just because the Lakers are another one of those teams doesn’t mean the Clippers shouldn’t get credit for keeping their foot on the gas in this one, eventually leading by 43 points before settling for the 25-point victory.

– The Lakers were missing two of their regulars – Wesley Johnson (hip injury) and Ronnie Price (broken  nose), so the blowout still has to be taken in that context. The Clippers beat a bad team missing two key players. That’s what good teams should do.

– Matt Barnes did a nice job holding Kobe Bryant in check. Bryant shot 0 of 4 in the first half and 2 of 12 overall to score just four points while often behind hounded by Barnes, who also happened to score 19 points on 6 of 12 shooting – 5 of 10 from 3-point range.

– The five starters – Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Blake Griffin, Barnes and DeAndre Jordan – shot a combined 56.3 percent (31 of 55) from the field. It was only because the reserves shot a collective 30 percent (9 of 30) that the Clippers shot under 50 percent (47.1) overall.

– With all the good stuff that happened in this game – at least for the Clippers – will that translate into a victory Saturday over the Dallas Mavericks? Dallas (26-11) is a terrific team and the Clippers (24-12) have a losing record against such teams. Dallas is in a virtual tie with Memphis for third in the Western Conference standings, the Clippers are in sixth, a half-game behind fifth-place Houston.